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Prophetic Cries At Whitehall: The Gender Dynamics Of Early Quaker Women'S Injurious Speech

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Chapter Summary

Almost 375 Quaker women prophesied publicly in the second half of the seventeenth century. A good number of these prophets unleashed their spiritual onslaughts against men at the very pinnacle of state power. Curiously, English state leaders often seemed to expose themselves willingly to these attacks. Among the assailants was one Mary Howgill, Quaker minister, who at “about ten a clock at night” on 7 July 1656, issued this prophetic warning to the Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell, in Whitehall Palace. There is little in the content and discursive structure of Howgill’s letter to account for the heartfelt response on the part of the Lord Protector. It asks for nothing. It is harsh. Like other Quaker petitions, it directly charges Cromwell with condoning the persecution of Friends, but also with much worse: with worldly corruption and with having “crucified the Lamb of God”.

Keywords: Mary Howgill; Oliver Cromwell; Quaker women; seventeenth century; Whitehall Palace



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